An unprecedented coalition of education groups, representing parents, teachers and principals from all school systems in the state has warned the NSW Premier his Government faces a major electoral backlash if it goes ahead with plans to slash $1.7 billion from the education budget.
Representatives from 12 groups, including the NSW Teachers Federation, principals groups and Catholic and independent school parents, met the Premier Barry O’Farrell and the Education Minister Mr Adrian Piccoli this afternoon (Thursday) to demand the cuts be reversed, warning they would seriously affect the education of all children in the state.
The representatives, who collectively form the NSW Education Alliance, left the meeting astounded that the Premier would continue trying to justify the biggest cuts to education in a generation when faced by the combined opposition of virtually every person involved in the NSW education system.
The NSW Education Alliance put the Premier on notice that he faces a major political battle. ‘’We refuse to accept these cuts and today we told the Premier that we won’t back down. School communities across NSW will fight this decision until it is over-turned.’’ said Lila Mularczyk, the President of the NSW Secondary Principals Council.
The Alliance is astounded that the NSW Government seems determined to evade its legal and ethical responsibility to provide education of the highest
quality to the young people of the state. Mr Stephen Grieve, the president of the NSW Parents Council which represents parents of children at independent schools, warned the cuts would put the Government’s future at risk, despite its large majority.
‘’The Greiner Government had a significant majority but, after Dr Terry Metherell tried to behave in a similar fashion, they were reduced to a minority government.’’ Mr Grieve said. ‘’This coalition of very large groups, both professional associations and parents groups, from all sectors is simply unprecedented. It shows the resolute and implacable opposition to these cuts. ‘’The cuts are outrageous and it is clear the Government has completely misunderstood the significance of education to the community. This is going to be a very rough period for the Government.’’
Dr John Collier, the chair of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia in NSW, said it was absurd that as the Federal Government was planning to give money with one hand through the Gonski process while the State Government was busy taking with the other. ‘’We can’t achieve the Government’s goal of improving educational performance when it is cutting funds for schools. It’s just not acceptable.’’ Dr Collier said. ‘’We’ve got everybody here in absolute agreement. We are determined to stand with our colleagues against any cuts to education.’’ Independent schools will have to make cuts inside the school gate, Dr Collier said. ‘’There is no bureaucracy where cuts can be made so this has to affect frontline services.’’
Ms Danielle Cronin, the Executive Director of the Council of Catholic School Parents in NSW, said any reduction in funding will affect the quality of theCatholic schools and how many parents could afford to choose them. ‘’I think it is a tragedy that education across the board would have the guts ripped out of it by a Government which has said that education is a State priority.’’ Ms Cronin said. ‘’We measure the quality of our community by the quality of the education we provide our young people and that will be grossly undermined in NSW.’’
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR COMMENTS:
Ms Lila Mularczyk
President, NSW Secondary Principals Council
0417 284 227
Dr John Collier
Chair, AHISA, NSW
0410 517 214
Mr Stephen Grieve
President, NSW Parents Council
0418 464 855
Ms Danielle Cronin,
Executive Director, Council of Catholic School Parents NSW/ACT
0420 518 616